The President of the General Assembly will convene a high-level event next summer at UN Headquarters with the goal of helping countries reach a climate change agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris in December 2015.
The 29th June event, which will include ministerial-level participants, will take place about midway between the COP 20 in Lima, which ended this month, and next December’s COP 21 in Paris.
It will be the first major gathering on climate change in New York since the UN Secretary-General’s landmark Climate Summit on 23 September, which saw more than 100 Heads of State and Government and many business leaders announce bold plans to address global warming.
It “is meant to keep up the momentum” and complement the ongoing negotiations being led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, President of the UN General Assembly H.E. Mr. Sam Kahama Kutesa said. “It will provide member states with a platform to exchange views, share experiences and take stock of the progress ahead of the Paris meeting.”
In addition to inviting high-level government representatives, Mr. Kutesa has invited participation from civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders.
“The current generation of political leaders have an historic responsibility to take bold measures to curb the effects of climate change,” he said in Lima. “The world is watching with anticipation and justified anxiety. We need to do whatever it takes to reach a binding and ambitious climate change agreement in December next year.”
The Ugandan lawyer and politician told COP 20 delegates that the impact of climate change is being felt in his own country, where the area covered by snow-capped glaciers in the Rwenzori Mountains has shrunk from 2.7 square miles at the start of the last century to less than 0.4 square miles today.
“It is estimated that, if the current trend caused by warming of the atmosphere continues, there may be no snow glaciers on the mountain in the next two decades,” he said.
The impact of climate change extends worldwide, threatening food security and undermining efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, he said.
“The good news, or glimmer of hope, depending on how optimistic one would like to be, is that we can take measures to step back from the precipice of catastrophic climate change consequences,” he said. “If we do more mitigation today, we can reduce the cost of adaptation tomorrow.”
But that will require the collective political will of the international community to transform current economic and social models into low-carbon and, ultimately, carbon-neutral economies.
“This should be done on the basis of equity and in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” he added.
The UN General Assembly comprises all 193 Members of the United Nations and provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter.